photo-56someWHEREness – OLD SOILS new wines

Tasting Notes from Trade Tasting held at St. James Cathedral Centre in Toronto on Monday, April 20th, 2015. Eleven wineries represented – around the horn it was Norman Hardie Wines, Southbrook Vineyards, Charles Baker Wines, Stratus, 13th Street Winery, Flat Rock Cellars, Cave Spring Cellars, Tawse Winery, Malivoire Wine, Bachelder Niagara and Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery. A separate Late Harvest and Ice Wine table was set up with seven wineries offering sweeter samples.

St. James Cathedral, Toronto

St. James Cathedral, Toronto

Terrior, the french term for Somewhereness, describes the interplay of all the characteristics that make up a wine and how the uniqueness of individual place, type of soil, and varietal choice influence the final product. The Somewhereness experienced continued my belief that Ontario makes delicious wines that truly speak to their sense of place. Balance was a descriptor used to describe many of the wines tasted. Fruit and acidity, tannins and texture, refreshing and satisfying.

“Somewhereness is more than just an event. It allows us to recognize the particular beauty of a place. Since Ontario’s wines have just such a particualr beauty, Somewhereness celebration makes sense in a single sip.” – Matt Kramer, author and wine columnist, quote from programme.

Somewhereness Trade Tasting

Somewhereness Trade Tasting

I tasted whites first, followed by reds with a sweet and a couple sparklers mixed in. Also showcased were a number of artisan food purveyors with some awesome cheeses, smoked salmon, bacon and eggs, breads and preserves offered to compliment and complement the wines. Below are my short notes and impressions from what I tried. Some I thought would be excellent with FOOD and are noted as such.

Norman Hardie Wines

2013 Norman Hardie Wines Calcaire VQA Ontario – mineral witha  tinge of sweetness. Nose and flavours of apricots and granny smith apple. Summer sipper, light and refreshing.

2013 Norman Hardie Wines County Chardonnay VQA Prince Edward County – crisp fruitiness, zingy lemon pith – FOOD

2012 Norman Hardie Wines Niagara Chardonnay VQA Niagara Peninsula – crisp and refreshing, smoother than County, balance.

2011 Norman Hardie Wines Niagara Pinot Noir VQA Niagara Peninsula – floral and pretty, feminine power, excellent. My favourite Pinot Noir of the day.

Southbrook Vineyards

2014 Southbrook Vineyards Small Lot Orange Wine – a natural wine with no sulphates, may use very low (10 ppm) in bottling, cloudy pale orange colour gives way to vibrant orange swirl aromas and crisp blood orange flavours. Definitely unique, discussion about the predisposition to having a taste for a certain amount of sulphates from the trace amounts in most wines.

2012 Southbrook Vineyards Poetica Red VQA Four Mile Creek – freshly opened bottle slightly closed. Beautiful nose of red licorice, raspberry, red ink. Tannic, acidic, young spicy bite. Balanced in its power, still a baby. Decant for FOOD now, will evolve for years to come.

2010 Southbrook Vineyards Vidal Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula – golden brown colour with a nose of caramel squares, sherry notes, caramel apple pie. Flavours replayed with slight acidity, not unctious and not thin but smooth. Sampled with de la terre bakery multigrain baguette topped with rhubarb ginger jam.

Charles Baker Wines

2014 Charles Baker Riesling Ivan Vineyard VQA Twenty Mile Bench – minerality and vibrant young fruit sweetness against a lemon lime finish and a dry acidity to end.

2012 Charles Baker Riesling Picone Vineyard VQA Vinemount Ridge – juicy and still young, almost jammy on the nose. Tastes of apple pudding and a lemon curd tart that fell in gravel, hints of petrol starting to evolve. Balanced acidity and fruit, outstanding expression for a hot vintage.

2008 Charles Baker Riesling Picone Vineyard VQA Vinemount Ridge – silky smooth with the same aromas and flavours of the 2012 with more petrol to bring it into a nirvanic state of equilibrium. The next evolution with more integration – outstanding. My favourite white wine and favourite wine of the day.

Stratus Winery

2011 Tollgate White VQA Niagara Lakeshore – nose of fruit and dryness with a hint of caramel, buttery and creamy on the palate with cardamon spice. – FOOD

2014 Wildass Rosé VQA Niagara Lakeshore – pink grapefruit aromas and flavours from this freshly bottled pink prettiness. Clean, clear, dry and refreshing.

2010 Stratus Red VQA Niagara Lakeshore – excellent, perfect balance of dark red fruits and bright acidity. Fine wine finesse that shows how the sum is greater than the parts.

13th Street Winery

NV 13th Street Winery Cuvée Rosé VQA Niagara Peninsula – fantastic nose of Laura Secord strawberry cream chocolates, fine mousse of strawberry and white cherry. Sampled with Fat Chance Cold Smoked Salmon prepared by Imant Malins, enjoyed the smokey fatness of the salmon with the fruit and acidity of the sparkler.

Flat Rock Cellars

2014 Flat Rock Cellars Nadja’s Vineyard Riesling VQA Twenty Mile Bench – nose closed at moment but hints of lemon pineapple upside-down cake come through. Lively and exciting on the palate with a luxuriously smooth oiliness, mouth coating then refreshed with acidic backbone. Great expression of Somewhereness. Interesting to taste a new, younger version from this vineyard compared to the 2007 I tasted in the fall.

2012 Flat Rock Cellars Gravity VQA Twenty Mile Bench – dark ruby with a nose of rusty beets. Flavours of red cherry, crisp red current, roasted beets. Smooth tannins for so young. Lots of potential for evolution.

Cave Spring Cellars

2010 Cave Spring Cellars Sparkling Riesling Extra-Dry VQA Niagara Escarpment – nose of petrol, lemon pith, orange peel with a mouthful of lemons and limes and vibrant acidity. Evolving mid-age Riesling with bubbles. You can tell it is a Riesling, in a good way.

2013 Cave Spring Cellars Dolomite Cabernet Franc VQA Niagara Escarpment – crisp nose of red raspberry, brick and clay. Bright acidity to balance the chalky stewed red fruit. Still a baby, potential for fantastic evolution.

Tawse Winery

2011 Tawse Winery Laundry Vineyard Cabernet Franc VQA Lincoln Lakeshore – inky purple goodness with a nose of black and red fruit. Finely gritty (good) tannins reveal the black raspberry and blackberry acidic backbone.

Malivoire Wine

2011 Malivoire Wine Stouck Meritage VQA Lincoln Lakeshore – inky depth in this dark and angry wine. Grip from tannins and copious black and purple fruit, leather and smoke. Serious and masculine. Lots of life left in this juggernaut.

Bachelder Niagara

2012 Bachelder Chardonnay Mineralité VQA Niagara Peninsula – mineral sweetness on the nose with flavours of crisp apple and lemon

2012 Bachelder Pinot Noir Parfum VQA Niagara Peninsula – lighter style of Pinot Noir with fruit-forward cherry on the nose and palate. Balanced acidity to the fruit. FOOD

2012 Bachelder Lowry Vineyard Pinot Noir VQA St. David’s Bench – balanced and lovely with light red fruit. Integrated tannins for so young, drinking very well now.

Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery

2011 Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery Terroir Caché Red Meritage VQA Beamsville Bench – blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec. Deep and rich nose of black fruit and stewed liquorice. Chalky and youthful tannic grip with jammy black fruit. Big, balanced wine. Excellent. FOOD


Day of the Pig

Day of the Pig

Day of the Pig

Whole Hog for Day of the Pig

Whole Hog for Day of the Pig

Day of the Pig! What a great name for an annual festival celebrating everything swine held at Seed to Sausage just north of Kingston. The Day of the Pig started as a celebration of the opening of the Seed to Sausage retail outlet and has grown every year with this being the 4th instalment. Besides being an excuse to visit my sister, brother-in-law and niece (who live in Kingston), I was eager to attend to submit my signature barbeque sauce in the barbeque sauce competition that was only one of the many events held during the day. My sauce made the finals and finished either 4th or 5th out of 27 entries. Also featured were a number of local vendors in a farmers’ market atmosphere selling various and sundries (!) – handmade chocolate, pastas, baked goods, preserves, sauces, home brew kits, cheeses and fermented products. Also on offer were the samples of two wineries and two breweries as well as some food vendors selling tacos, burgers and some delicious smoked salmon sandwiches.

Carving the Pig on Day of the Pig

Carving the Pig on Day of the Pig

The centre piece of the day had to be the whole hog that was cooked overnight. I spoke to the cook who said he used a combination of hickory, cherry and green birch for the smoke flavour. Green birch was a new idea for me, his opinion was that it was essential to give it “some zing”. I patiently waited to get some of the jowls and was not disappointed with the taste or texture. Any seasoned barbequer will tell you it really all starts with the quality of the meat and this pig was glorious! I snagged a large chuck of back-fat that was rendered to perfection and the real taste of pork was simply sublime.

I tried to sample all that was on offer and was impressed with the quality of all that was offered as well as the genuine people that were selling their wares. I always take pleasure in talking to the producers that make what they are selling to get a chance to feel that passion they put into their product.

Erica Gilmour from Hummingbird Chocolate Maker

Erica Gilmour from Hummingbird Chocolate Maker

Hummingbird Chocolate Maker @HummingbirdChoc had various specific origin chocolates for sample and available to purchase. Owner Erica Gilmour was on hand to answer questions and explain the nuances between each type. Although each was listed at 70% Coaco, the mouthfeel and flavour profiles were vastly different with my favourite being the Momotombo from Nicaragua for the warm sweetness.

Smoked Salmon Sandwich from Findlay Foods

Smoked Salmon Sandwich from Findlay Foods

The smoked salmon sandwich from Findlay Foods was outstanding, generous with the salmon and just the right amount greens and sauce.

Pyramid Farm & Ferments owner Alex Currie

Pyramid Farm & Ferments owner Alex Currie

Pyramid Farm and Ferments had some amazing fermented products, a glorious bright kimchi and a product new to me, kombucha, a refreshing fermented tea drink brewed in a similar manner to sauerkraut. Alex Currie, one of the owners, was on hand talking about their products and offering samples.

Back Forty Artisan Cheese

Back Forty Artisan Cheese

The cheeses from Back Forty Artisan Cheese, similar to everything else I tried at Day of the Pig, were superb. I picked up the Madawaska and Highland Blue and I have no shame in saying I ate the Highland Blue over a couple days all by myself. Made from ewe’s milk, it had the perfect balance of salty-pungent-stink that I love in blue cheeses. I still have the Madawaska in the fridge and have yet to open our taste it but I am sure it will be awesome as well.

I had the chance to taste all of the wines offered from both of the wineries present, Casa-Dea Estates Winery and Three Dog Winery. Below are my tasting notes. I had the chance to speak with Paul Marconi Vice-President for Casa-Dea Estates Winery about who they are and what they do. All three of the wines they had on offer are LCBO list products and he puts on over 10,000 kms a month promoting their range of products. He also explained why their sparkling wine is labelled as VQA Ontario instead of VQA PEC.

Casa-Dea Estates Winery wine on offer

Casa-Dea Estates Winery wines on offer

Casa-Dea 2011 Pinot Gris VQA Prince Edward County

Nose of lime and lemon replayed on the palate with refreshing dryness and a hint of tart green apple. Cool and clean with only a hint of a whisper of residual sweetness. A great Summer sipper wine for everyday drinking. Nice expression of the varietal. 100% Estate grown fruit.

Casa-Dea 2012 Dea’s Cuvée VQA Ontario VQA

Charmat method with 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. Dry with very little residual sugar aftertaste. Both nose and palate have very pleasant ginger zing with some lemon pith. Dry and fine mousse with very fine ginger ale-like bubbles, similar to the champagne of the ginger ales that my mom would give me when I was sick with most of the bubbles stirred out. Labeled as VQA Ontario as the method of production did not meet the VQA standards for Prince Edward County designation. 100% Estate grown fruit.

Casa-Dea 2010 Cabernet Franc VQA Prince Edward County

Nose closed at first, slow to open up. With some time came fresh red fruits – raspberry, slight cherry (?), hint of red current. Bistro-style wine that worked really well with the Hispaniola chocolate from Hummingbird Chocolate. Flavours of ripe red current and red raspberry. Integrated tannins, smooth and youthful but very pleasant. 100% Estate grown fruit.

Three Dog Winery wines in iffer

Three Dog Winery wines on offer

Three Dog Winery 2013 Dog House Red VQA Ontario VQA

Youthful Baco Noir nose of black fruit and bacon. Slightly rough youthful tannins need some time to simmer down. Excellent match for food, great with pork. Fine expression of varietal – a Baco that tastes like a Baco. Palate of black fruit and smoked meat.

Three Dog Winery 2011 Dog House White VQA Ontario VQA

Dry Vidal with a touch of Riesling, an impression of sweetness on the nose and in the mouth, maybe a little floral touch too. Some tree fruit on the palate, think pear and apple. Nice seem of acidity on the finish. A great summer sipper, perfect for the patio or on the dock.

I found a great video on YouTube about the Day of the Pig, I just happen to appear around the 1 second mark! Thanks Derek Cooper for posting! It was a wonderful day and I hope to be able to make it back for the next Day of the Pig!

Fruit Plus – Feeding Kids Healthy Food

Fruit Salad...Yummy Yummy!

Fruit Salad…Yummy Yummy!

I think it is important to give back. Be it financially, or with my time and expertise. To that end I have volunteered at my oldest daughter’s school, Caledon East Public School, to help with the Fruit Plus program. This program, formerly called Fruit First, has the mandate of giving children a healthy snack to supplement whatever they bring in their lunch. Every-other Tuesday myself and a group of other parents (all Moms, I am the only Dad) meet at the school and prepare and serve some sort of snack to the children that have signed up for the program. Currently we have approximately 100 students enrolled.

So far this school year we have served apple slice Christmas trees with cereal ornaments and Cheerio trunks, fruit salad with yogourt, cheese/apples/grapes, warm apple cider and fruit smoothies. Each snack contains a minimum of a fruit/vegetable but we also try to include a grain of some sort.

I get a lot of satisfaction in participating in this program. For one, it allows me to see my daughter in her school setting, a chance to come by with the cart of snacks to say hello and give her a hug. There is also a re-connection to my school days, days that were very good for me. I enjoyed school from an early age, always enjoyed learning as well as teaching, it was a way for me to better comprehend what I was learning by taking it in, mulling it over and then helping others to understand it as well. Just being back in a school takes me back to all that time I spent over the years participating in the school culture. I also hope to give the kids an appreciation for the food they put in their bodies. Of course it should taste good and be nutritious, but it should also bring happiness, a sense of joy to the body and soul. This is one of the main reasons I like to cook, to give others the chance to feel the joy I get from eating. Life’s most simple pleasure, a good meal.