Category Archives: Wine

Nova Scotia chef/innkeepers on their way to Bordeaux wine country

Bordeaux, France
     L’Union des Crus Classés de Graves has invited the owner-chefs of Trout Point Lodge to le dîner traditionnel des Accabailles December 8 in Bordeaux. The event, which marks the conclusion of each year’s grape harvest, celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2013. Usually only Michelin-starred chefs and luminaries from the world of French cuisine receive such an invitation.


Vaughan Perret and Charles Leary will have the chance to sample numerous vintages of both the region’s red and white wines, old and new, and experience the gastronomy of Southwestern France. A tasting from all member chateaux occurs before the dinner.

The Union is made up of the finest wine producers of the Bordeaux region known as Pessac-Léognan, including the world-renowned Château Haut-Brion. In addition to the gala dinner and wine tasting hosted by Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Vaughan Perret and Charles Leary will experience an additional wine tasting lunch at Château Carbonnieux and a tasting of the 2009 vintage at Château Pape Clément.
The award-winning Trout Point wine list features a number of bottles from this region, just to the north of Bordeaux City. “Pessac is actually one of our favorite appellations, not just from Bordeaux but around the world,” said Charles Leary. “We’re honoured to have received such a rare invitation.” Perret & Leary lived in Bordeaux for a brief period in 2006-07. During the December 7 weekend, they will also get to stay for 2 nights as guests in one of the Union’s member chateaux, among the vineyards.
“It really helps our understanding of wine and food to visit a re
gion like this. We can truly represent the Pessac wines on our list as well,” said Perret. A number of wines from these producers are currently carried by the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission as well.
This is not the first link made this year between Bordeaux and Nova Scotia. Owner of Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Daniel Cathiard, was among a prestigious group of French winemakers who visited Nova Scotia wine producers this past May.
Perret & Leary last attended Accabailles event in 2011. Only 30 persons will receive an invitation to the 50th anniversary weekend event, according to the Union.
Besides Haut-Brion, Union members include Château La Mission Haut-Brion Château La Tour Haut-Brion – Château Laville Haut-Brion, Château Bouscaut, Château Carbonnieux, Domaine de Chevalier, Château Couhins, Château Couhins-Lurton, Château de Fieuzal, Château Haut-Bailly, Château
Latour-Martillac, Château Malartic-Lagravière, Château Olivier, Château Pape Clément, Château Smith Haut Lafitte.
Trout Point Lodge is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, which also has a member hotel adjacent to Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafitte.

2 great choices available from Cristall Wine Merchants

Cristall Wine Merchants in the Sunnyside Mall, Bedford, carries two red wines from Mossback in California, including a 2009 Chalk Hill Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (both $25.90).

The Cab wins out, well-structured with stone fruit, chocolate, and leather notes; tannins are firm and ripe–this is well worth drinking now but will hold up in the cellar for several years as well.

The Pinot follows close behind, and is once again well-rounded and very drinkable, perfect with lamb, trout, or salmon. There’s excellent blackberry and cherry flavours, without being too jammy.

Trout Point Lodge and other top Nova Scotia restaurants have both featured on their lists.

Trout Point Lodge opens year-round, including exceptional dining

Trout Point Lodge in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia, will remain open year-round in 2012-13 says Chef/Proprietor Vaughan Perret. For the late Fall, Winter, and early Spring period, the Lodge will serve 3-course supper in place of the elaborate 5-course dinners served during the primary tourism season . . . but quality will not suffer. Half Board (breakfast & dinner) will cost $144/couple.

Room rates are also a great value, with spacious main lodge rooms with river views now starting at $139/night. Rates do not include service and tax.

A range of activities remains available, including the longtime guest favourite: a riverside wood-fired hot tub. The Lodge also plans to add themed wine tastings on weekends.

The Lodge recently celebrated receiving 5 stars in the Inn category from the national accommodation rating agency, Canada Select. The Lodge had 4 1/2 stars for the previous 12 years.

Food & wine in Jumilla, Spain — a standout experience

While taking advantage of a special package at Spa Leana, known historically as los baños de Fortuna (2 nights double room with terrace, half board including wine, and a spa treatment circuit for an amazing 108 euros/person!), a hastily arranged day trip to Jumilla wine country (about 70 km away) resulted in a fantastic visit to Bodegas Juan Gil and an unplanned lunch at Finca de Olmo.

Juan Gil has an impressive winery facility amidst the rocky soils and chaliced


monastrell vines of northern Jumilla wine country. The winery has lots of extra stainless steel vat capacity, including large & small vessels, and vinifies both mid market and finer wines. The mainstay in Juan Gil silver label, which is made from 100% monastrell and receives 12 months of aging in French and American oak. The 4 month, with a new gold label, presents an excellent value.  The silver label can stand up to long aging, with at least 5 years recommended. Juan Gil’s great grandson explained that a new 18-month wine will be on the markets this year. Much of Juan Gil’s better wine is made from 80+ year old vines, growing in the starkest, driest, and rockiest vineyard land we have seen.

A little known fact is that many of the vines are on original rootstock, and this part of Jumilla was never affected by phyloxera. The wines produced were famous for their colour, concentration, and ability to produce high alcohol content (reportedly up to 17%!). Today’s finer wines are lean, tightly structured, and still alcoholic (14%)–the 12 month oak-aged wines need some time to open up.

Departing the bodega on the way back to los baños we spot a roadside cortijo and restaurant called Olmo. We arrive just at lunch time, and a table is arranged. Local sausages, a mixed salad with excellent bonito (mackerel) in oil, and fried local goat cheese precede the most amazing dish we’ve had in Spain in quite a while.

While paella is most often associated with Valenica–just over the border with Murcia–Jumilla apparently has its own, unique version. Paella jumilliana was prepared at Olmo in a heavy-bottomed paella pan cooked over a wood fire. One single layer of short-grain rice covered the pan. The paella was escargot and rabbit, with the brilliant yellow color of saffron unmistakable cooked into the rice–a true culinary expression of terroir. The smokiness did not obscure the complex saffron flavor, itself complimented by an excellent stalk, the rabbit (including the liver), and the snails. Perfectly cooked, the bottom was crispy and the rice grains  plump and flavouful.

A pleasant Rioja for drinking now . . .

Bodegas Lan is a major, quality producer of Rioja wines. Like many other houses, Lan is going being the traditional joven, roble, crianza, reserva, gran reserva categories with some uniquely named wines. Such is the case with “D-12”, spied recently on the shelves at Carrefour in Andalucia.

It’s 100% Tempranillo with 10 months in a combination of new American oak (65%) and French oak (35%).

This wine is robust, with nice berry flavours, and ready for consumption now. The price is good, too.Bodegas Lan D-12 Rioja

Spanish Wine Notes: Pintia 2005 from Toro

There’s a lot to be said for Pintia’s wines–well made no matter the vintage, at their best they shine with complexity. The 2005, while not on par with a recent tasting of the 2003 vintage, comes across with delicious plum & blackberry flavours. This wine will age well. You can try it soon at Trout Point Lodge.

L’art de vivre column: Franschhoek, South Africa

Like an experiential oasis amidst the days of safari game drives and Cape Town nights, Franschhoek provided a couple of days of enchanting, civilized respite. A quintessential wine town, one can visit numerous wineries on the edge of town or in nearby Paarl or Stellenbosch–c’est facile! Inviting accommodations and restaurants galore take their place next to well manicured homes and tree lined streets.

The stylish and verdant boutique hotel Le Quartier Francais will provide one of the most super overall accommodation experiences in South Africa, with its 2 dining venues–including the acclaimed Tasting Room–tasteful decoration, and abundant green spaces. Le Quartier’s 4 Quarters suites provide abundant space, dressing room, and a dedicated pool & butler.

Be sure to take a short drive to sister property Moreson Vineyards and the restaurant Bread & Wine, where sumptuous, perfectly prepared lunches accompany house wines.